Article
January 30, 2017

Gifts Roundup: Bay Area Billionaires Give $100 Million for STEM Campus

University of San Francisco

A $100 million donation from Silicon Valley property developers John and Susan Sobrato will establish a hub for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at Santa Clara University.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

Santa Clara University

Silicon Valley real-estate moguls John and Susan Sobrato donated $100 million for a new campus for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The complex will house classrooms, laboratories, and spaces for student projects.

The new center will be named the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation. Mr. Sobrato graduated from Santa Clara in 1960 and serves on its Board of Trustees. The Sobratos gave $20 million to the university in 2007 to help build a new library and commons area.

University of Utah

Siblings Bob, Katharine, and Matthew Garff donated $12 million to the university’s David Eccles School of Business for the new Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Executive Education Building, named for their parents.

The new facility will house the business school’s MBA programs as well as centers for executive education and career services.

The Garff family runs the Ken Garff Automotive Group, which was founded in 1932 by Robert Garff’s father.

University of Colorado at Boulder

Ann Smead and her husband, Michael Byram, gave $10 million to the College of Engineering and Applied Science to further its aerospace-engineering programs.

The university named the college’s Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences for Ms. Smead and her first husband, H.J. Smead, who died in 2003. Mr. Smead, who earned an engineering degree at Colorado, was the longtime head of Kaiser Aerospace & Electronics Corporation and a founding member of the university’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences External Advisory Board.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sheldon and Leena Peck donated $8 million to endow the university’s Ackland Art Museum. The money will help the museum hire a new curator and pay for future acquisition of artworks.

Along with the cash donation, the Pecks gave a collection of 134 Dutch and Flemish drawings from the 1600s through the 1800s, including seven works by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Mr. Peck is an orthodontic specialist and a former clinical professor of developmental biology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Chapel Hill in 1963 and a doctorate from the UNC School of Dentistry in 1966.

Texas Christian University

Tom and Marilyn Sumner gave $5.5 million to back the expansion of the Neeley School of Business.

Mr. Sumner leads AllPoints Service Corporation, which provides land-surveying services to homebuilders. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university in 1967 and 1968, respectively.

Ms. Sumner, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian in 1968, is a former education administrator and co-founder of a consulting company that advises school districts in the Houston area.

Cohen Hillel Academy

Arthur Epstein contributed $5 million to the Jewish independent school in Marblehead, Mass., which will be renamed for him this summer.

The donor is an investor who has provided seed money for companies such as Panera Bread and Planet Fitness. He also invests in and advises new businesses developed by student entrepreneurs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.

Mr. Epstein did not attend the academy but was a longtime friend of the late Bennett Solomon, a former principal of the school. This the second time in the school’s 62-year history that it has been renamed for a donor.

Vehicles for Change

Jerry Greeff gave his $2.5-million automotive-services business, One Stop Auto Repair, to the Baltimore-area nonprofit, which repurposes donated cars for charitable uses.

The charity gives the vehicles to working low-income families or uses them to train formerly incarcerated people as auto mechanics. Its Center for Automotive Careers provides paid internships to people returning to society after serving time.

Mr. Greeff, who is also a real-estate investor, ran One Stop for nearly 40 years before deciding last year to donate it to the charity.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.